Blagging an upgradeBack to Forum
Just watched a quirky/amusing marketing video for Emirates: don’t upgrade your seat – upgrade your airline.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7ZurrICWx4
Got me thinking, what’s the most audacious/funny/successful attempt at blagging an upgrade you have ever witnessed (or indeed, pulled off yourself?!)19 Jan 2018
I have never asked, but have mistakenly had a face off conviced i had booked business but actually booked economy on a reward flight, they did upgrade me to PE after i profusly apologised. that was just last week on CX!19 Jan 2018
Not an upgrade but I know a true funny story of 2 Himalayan climbers avoiding excess baggage charges enroute from the UK to Kathmandu in Y. They had huge bags full of ironmongery, with ropes sticking out, and when challenged by checkin staff they said the bags were “full of jam for the starving orphans of Nepal”. The staff were so amused by the obvious lie that they let them off without a surcharge (wish I could remember the airline, think it was Emirates).19 Jan 2018
Not an upgrade but I know a true funny story of 2 Himalayan climbers avoiding excess baggage charges enroute from the UK to Kathmandu in Y. They had huge bags full of ironmongery, with ropes sticking out, and when challenged by checkin staff they said the bags were “full of jam for the starving orphans of Nepal”. The staff were so amused by the obvious lie that they let them off without a surcharge (wish I could remember the airline, think it was Emirates).
I once tried to convince a gate agent that, despite my boarding pass saying 22D, given my weight against the necessary weight distribution to ensure the aircraft’s maximum performance and efficiency, on my independent assessment, the prime location for me was 1A. In the name of safety of course.
In the end, security were kind to me. Airport detention rooms in the US offer free coffee. Cookies were extra though.19 Jan 2018
Have enjoyed several upgrades but now the existence of “Premier economy” means the upgrade is worth little…Economy to business then YES… but economy to Prem Eco is worthless if there are a few free rows at the back in economy to stretch out in…19 Jan 2018
I was travelling on standby once on a flight from the US to europe on DL. Although this was standby it was actually as a revenue passenger (i’d misconnected from an internal flight and they put me on standby for a later flight to europe). The flight was very busy and we were waiting at the gate along with quite a few other passengers whom were also on standby. My partner and I were elated to not only get on the flight but also to get seats next to each other in economy. I approached the gate agent desk and expressed my thanks for getting us on and finding us seats together. The gate agent kind of looked over the top of her specs at me like a head mistress and said ‘show me your boarding cards’. I though to myself ‘GREAT. You’ve highlighted that you are two standby passengers with two seats together and they probably have confirmed passengers kicking off they didn’t get their seat assignments together and now you’ll take our seats and give us the split seats of the confirmed passengers. She took the boarding cards, looked at them. Typed away. I saw two new boarding cards being spat out. She thrust them at me and said ‘have a nice flight’ and at that she turned on her heals and walked down the jetty. When I looked expecting 23B and 36E I had boarding passes for seats 3A and 3B in Business 🙂
I think these kind of things happen less and less often now. I know many airlines computer systems have now been configured to simply not allow it in the system for people to be upgraded willy nilly. At BA on flights that are looking potentially overbooked down the back where ‘invols’ may be needed there is a centralised facility in head office where a ‘Discretionary Upgrade Tool’ list is made 48hrs out. A number of factors are considered including FF status, fare paid, whether a certain customer had had invol upgrades before. The system then collates a ranking and automatically processes the upgrades if need be. There is little space for manual intervention, especially for a staff member on a check in desk or at a gate.19 Jan 2018
I flew BA out of Accra last year. I was flying with a customer. We were both in Economy (for the cost of the ticket, it’s very hard to justify anything else for 6 hours). Checking in at the counter, I casually (and jokingly) stated that WT+ would really be better for us. To my astonishment, the lady tapped some keys and spat out two new boarding passes for WT+. I assume that we had already been automatically upgraded but this was a nice touch. (My customer who rarely travels was somewhat astonished by the whole thing). When we arrived at the gate, I then ended up being bumped to Club. So all in all, a great trip…although in 10 years of flying, that’s the first time asking for an upgrade has got me anywhere! This was also a good reminder to me that being as courteous as possible to people when traveling is normally the best way to go about things!19 Jan 2018
From the other side, I had some amusing experiences as airport duty manager and upgrades were at my discretion.
Polite little old ladies and gentlemen might get free upgrades.
Good customers, ditto.
Rude arrogant demanding bullies never got (free) upgrades.
My staff had a variety of responses to : “What do I have to do to get an upgrade, sweetheart….?” which ranged from : “Pay” said sternly and without even looking up, through ‘see the duty manager’, to ‘I’ll see if that’s possible.’.
One approach we used when asked by arrogant and often very wealthy idiots who used to say : “I want an upgrade” was that I would pretend to type something into the computer, then say: “No problem Mr. XXXX”, seat 3D, please take this over to the ticket desk and they’ll do the necessary.” and handed them a folded piece of paper with a pre-arranged codeword on it, which meant ‘charge him the difference between Y and F.’
Two minutes later they’d be back, looking rather disgruntled : “I think there’s been a mistake, they want me to pay Rxxx.”
“Yes, that’s seems about right,” I would say, “would you like me to double check the amount?”
Sometimes though they were shamed into paying, and I’d make a point as I boarded them of saying : “I do hope you’ll enjoy your first class flight, Sir.”19 Jan 2018
Back in the early 80s my wife won a holiday worth £2000to Canada. We chose a BA fly drive starting in Vancouver and flew out on a BA 747 economy. Sat downstairs on way out. On booking in for return ttip at desk in Vancouver I asked if upstairs included economy as I’d never been upstairs on a 747. The check in girl said yes but wouldn’t we prefer to sit in Club/business. We said yes and had a great trip back in the old (now) armchair seats. Wel done BA all those years ago.19 Jan 2018
Years ago I was on a LHR to JFK flight in economy. Due to a late arriving (due to weather) inbound connecting flight I wasn’t able to score an emergency exit seat for my 198cm slightly rotund frame. There was no time to ask at the gate (which was closing as I arrived panting) so politely asked on board if any exit seats were free. Didn’t ask for an upgrade. The Purser for Economy whipped out the manifest with those reams and reams of white computer paper and said “come with me”. We then ended up in row 1 of WT+ on a window. The cabin was only half full and I had 2 bulkhead seats to myself. This was 2002 when I was still a student and the whole idea of flying anything other than economy was a pipe dream, so I was ecstatic! At the end of the flight I went to the galley and profusely thanked the crew for this great experience. They were classic BA crew: pragmatic, charming and funny. After a lovely chat I returned to my seat. 5 mins later a duty free bag filled with a bottle of French champagne appeared on the seat next to me, accompanied with the comment “that’s for saying something nice”.
The experience has stayed with me. Crew see thousands of passengers every week and need to have nerves of steel to deal with the stuff thrown at them. To this day I try to resist any temptation of venting on customer facing staff if something goes wrong. Quite the opposite, they often have the power to turn a lemon into lemonade and showing gratefulness for their help is the least I feel I can do as a passenger.20 Jan 2018
In the 23 years I have been flying with CX I have enjoyed a fair share of upgrades. I have never expected them let alone demanded them so delighted to get them. The stand out for me was back in 2008 taking my eldest daughter on the university run to the UK and were transiting from Singapore in the lounge at CLK. I mentioned to the lounge staff that I had a ton of miles to burn so if there was any opportunity to use them to move from Economy to Business that would be great. The agent said that as check in would not close for another 90 minutes or so he would let me know . Some 35 minutes later and with my daughter off at the loo the agent found me and handed the boarding passes back to me upside down. I said “that was quick” and “thank you” and flipped them over to see 4A and 4C – First Class. Another profuse “thank you” and said I had rarely heard of getting a two class upgrade. The agent said “you have been flying with us for 13 years and both you and your daughter were polite and courteous with your request”. So in my opinion good manners costs nothing yet can get the rewards. Similarly in 2011 returning with daughter number two in economy from her UK university run I was upgraded at LHR but she wasn´t. On board I asked the cabin member in charge if I could swop seats with my daughter so she could have the upgrade. That prompted “what a great dad you are” and that from several crew members plus my daughter !!. Last in 2013 daughter number three we were upgraded both ways HKG-LHR-HKG on her UK university run so the girls have nothing to complain about.20 Jan 2018
never really bragged an upgrade, had a few
The funniest was travelling home from Singapore to the UK one christmas on Emirates, I handed in my boarding pass and beep-beep red flashing lights (oh no), and seat changed to 10G……. just had to hope that my wife behind me was also bumped and had a few seconds of panic (I was gold, she wasn’t) but phew 10D for her
other amusing one was at christmas also, travelling alone, Qatar had emailed me on Xmas Eve offering to sell an upgrade from Doha to Singapore for $500, ignored it and drank more christmas cheer, wondered if I would be bumped anyway, sat in the pre-boarding lounge my name was called, thanks very much20 Jan 2018
As an Emirates silver card holder, I’ve walked up to the check in counter and brazenly asked for an upgrade, which they agreed to.
It only cost me £400, as advertised on the sign placed there 🙂21 Jan 2018
Sometimes you are lucky enough to get an upgrade.
Sometimes asking nicely will get you one. Most times it will not.
Expecting one (for no reason other than a feeling of self importance) is likely to get you nowhere.
My best was offering a pack of several Krispy Kreme doughnuts checking in for a flight from Phoenix to Toronto.
Worked a treat.21 Jan 2018